The virtues of exercise have long been extolled not only by the medical community and wellness advocates but also by those who have reaped its benefits. And in a society that seems to become even more sedentary by the day, the need for exercise is greater than ever.
Image by Nathan Cowley
For amputees, the benefits of exercise go beyond weight management and keeping health concerns at bay. It is the cure to many of the most common physical issues, such as being off balance, aching hips and backs, and a feeling that residual limbs are not robust enough to support your body weight. Simply put, regular exercise helps the body become stronger, allowing anyone to live as comfortably as possible.
The three exercises that we are going to explore in this article can be performed anywhere. You won’t need much to perform them except your bodyweight and a mat if you choose to exercise on the floor. These moves can be done with or without a prosthesis so you can do them as soon as you wake up or before going to bed.
The beauty of the plank is that it is simple yet it is also challenging. This exercise works to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, which means that you improve your core while also developing better torso balance.
If you’re an above-knee (AK) or below-knee (BK) amputee, you can perform this exercise without your prosthesis by supporting yourself with your thighs instead of your feet. It’s also best to use your forearms for better support. Your forearms should be parallel to each other and kept at a shoulder-width distance to avoid straining your shoulders. But if you’re wearing your prosthesis, you can start on your knees then work your way to your toes.
Once you’re in position, try to hold the plank for as long as you can. Beginners often hold the correct form for 10-15 seconds. So, if you’re a beginner and you can hold it longer, you might not be in the proper form. But as your abdominal muscles strengthen, you’ll notice that you can hold it for much longer.
The ultimate goal is to hold three one-minute planks. When you’re able to do this without much difficulty, then you’ll know that you’re ready to advance to the next level.
If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back, then this move is for you. Begin by lying on your stomach either on the mat or on your bed. Keep your legs straight and shoulder width apart. Place your arms under your chin.
Once you’re in position, press your legs down firmly while lifting your upper body. Hold this position for a count of three, then bring your torso back down.
Repeat this move 10 times. The goal is to do three sets of 10 with 30-second pauses between sets.
Pelvic tilts work to prevent lower back pain as well as possible injury. It further boosts lower back stability and flexibility.
To do this, lie on your back with knees bent. If you’re an above-knee (AK) amputee, place a pillow under your residual limb. Then, tilt your hips upward and toward you. As you do this, do your best to flatten your back. The natural curve of your back should disappear as you press it to the mat or bed. Stay in this position for a moment, then return to starting position.
Doing these exercises on your own for the first few times may be a bit difficult. So, it’s best to enlist someone to assist you. But as you get used to it, and your core becomes stronger, you’ll be able to perform these exercises correctly on your own. And that is the ultimate goal.